State pols repeal religious exemptions for vaccines amid measles outbreak

Shot down: State politicians repealed the religious exemption for vaccines on June 13, mandating that all children who are medically able get immunizations for a slate of diseases before they can attend schools.
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Albany politicians passed a package of bills repealing the religious exemption for vaccines on June 13, amid a measles outbreak that has swept through Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities and infected almost 1,000 people statewide.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bills from both legislative chambers into law, which will require children across the state to get vaccinated against a slate of illnesses before they can attend schools at all levels from day care to high school, in order to stem the ongoing epidemic caused by a spread of fear-mongering and false information, according to one of the legislation’s lead sponsors.

“New York is at the center of the worst measles outbreak in over a quarter of a century,” Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz (D-Bronx) said in a statement. “This outbreak has spread because misinformation and irresponsible rhetoric has scared people away from vaccinating their children. We need to end the nonmedical exemptions so preventable diseases will not spread in New York again.”

Dinowitz’s bill, A2371, along with its sister bill in the Senate, S2994, by Manhattan lawmaker Brad Hoylman, passed less than a week ahead of the end of legislative session on June 19 and will mandate that all children in the state who are medically able have to get immunized against a host of illnesses, including measles, mumps, hepatitis B, and others.

The new bill will protect New Yorkers who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons and send a message that vaccines are safe and effective in controlling the spread of contagious diseases, according to Hoylman.

“Today, the state Senate is sending a strong message to New Yorkers that vaccines are safe and effective,” the pol said in a statement. “We’re putting science ahead of misinformation about vaccines and standing up for the rights of immunocompromised children and adults, pregnant women and infants who can’t be vaccinated through no fault of their own.”

State law previously allowed parents to opt their kids out of the mandatory vaccinations using religious exemptions, but lawmakers sprang into action after one of the largest measles epidemics in the country swept across the Empire State beginning last fall.

To date, 924 people statewide have been infected with the highly-contagious pathogen, with 571 of those in Brooklyn, concentrated primarily in the borough’s Orthodox Jewish communities in Williamsburg and Borough Park, according to data by the city and state departments of health.

Just this week, the city shut down three Williamsburg yeshivas — one of them a repeat offender — for admitting unvaccinated students and staff, despite an April 9 order by Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot requiring all people living, working, or going to school in certain northern Brooklyn postal codes to get the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine or face a $1,000 fine.

One legislator criticized the new law, saying that it violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by limiting religious freedom.

“I am in favor of, and continue to advocate for widespread vaccination. However, the separation of Church and State as guaranteed by the First Amendment is a cornerstone of our Democracy,” said state Sen. Simcha Felder, whose district includes Borough Park, where city health officials have confirmed 100 cases of the illness so far.

The legislator added in an emailed statement to this paper that the new law marked a slippery slope, particularly in times of increased hate crimes and rising anti-Semitism across the state.

“Any detraction of religious liberty by the state sets a dangerous precedent. Especially in these times, passing a law that eliminates free exercise of religious rights would set us down a slippery slope. The state has many tools available to manage this outbreak that stop short of tampering with religious freedom.”

The law previously met with opposition by a small group of anti-vaxxers who protested a rally held by Hoylman and his colleagues in support of the bill at City Hall on May 29, with one anti-vaxxer claiming that the small number of religious exemptions did not impact the spread of measles.

“It’s outrageous to try and take our religious exemptions away, when we make up less than half of 1 percent of the unvaccinated population,” said Queens resident Adreana Rodriguez told this paper.

But a similar law which state legislators passed in California last year — which the New York bill was modeled after — led to an increase in immunization there and Hoylman said at the May rally that anti-vaxxers use the religious exemption as a loophole, despite their objections being rooted in junk science — not faith.

“The religious exemption is a loophole,” said the Manhattan lawmaker. “It is masking someone’s conspiracy against vaccinations, and it needs to be closed.”

One of the main claims by anti-vaxxers is that vaccines cause autism, which the Center of Disease Control has proven to be untrue.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 1:19 pm, June 14, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Local from Here says:
Good! No more hiding behind “god” so you can put others at risk. Next, take away their tax exempt status.
June 14, 2019, 12:29 pm
Henry Finkelstein from Sheepshead Bay Kings Bay says:
Democrat Assembly person Helene Weinstein voted along with Republican Simcha Felder in favor of spreading measles in our borough . She almost always votes the way the orthodox Jewish community tells her too,just like Felder. She is far from being an independent legislator.
June 14, 2019, 2:34 pm
Gianni from bensenhurst says:
How about looking into the benefits they receive for claiming to be divorced and single with multiple kids, the real estate fraud they commit amongst a multitude of other crimes which scheme taxpayers out of our hard earned money.
June 14, 2019, 2:39 pm
Local from Here says:
And here are the antisemites spewing hatred in this thread.
June 14, 2019, 3:26 pm
Local from Here says:
And I posted antivaxing garbage in the other thread.
June 14, 2019, 3:31 pm
Treyvon says:
Religious people who attend services are happier, healthier and live longer.
June 14, 2019, 3:33 pm
Henry Finkelstein from Sheepshead Bay Kings Bay says:
And Here are the apologists for the ultra Orthodox Hasidic in the Jewish community who are bringing an epidemic to the entire city and northern suburbs including the rest of the Jewish Population. Always the first to play the hate card. Helene Weinstein and Shimcha Felder are no allies of ours. With friends like them ,we don't have enemies.
June 14, 2019, 3:35 pm
Local from Here says:
Religious people who attend services are fools.
June 14, 2019, 3:40 pm
Martin MalenKov from Coney Island says:
The Orthodox religious Hasidic community has way too many children and many of their families are on welfare.
June 14, 2019, 4:54 pm
Edsel Ford from DeeTroyT SeeTay says:
yet the illegals can just waltz right in, no questions asked - Democrat logic
June 14, 2019, 5:25 pm
Treyvon says:
When are the illegals tested for their vaccinations?
June 14, 2019, 5:26 pm
Martin Malenkov from Coney Islend says:
There are hardly any illegal aliens in Rockland county , Westchester along with Bushwich, Williamsburg, Midwood and Boro Park Brooklyn . Lets face facts. Measles was imported to our country primarily from Israeli commuters by the religious orthodox hasidic community.
June 14, 2019, 5:41 pm
Local from Here says:
"yet the illegals can just waltz right in, no questions asked - Democrat logic" When are the bigots tested for their intelligence? Is English your second language?
June 14, 2019, 5:57 pm
Treyvon says:
The illegals are all over NYC. They ride the buses, subways and work in the Kosher restaurants of Midwood, Williamsburg etc.
June 14, 2019, 6:15 pm
Local from Here says:
Treyvon, kill yourself you bigot. We don't want your trash here.
June 14, 2019, 6:26 pm
Treyvon says:
Guest worker programs are okay.
June 14, 2019, 7:21 pm
Local from Here says:
Ed from Koch = Treyvon = Ed from Koch
June 14, 2019, 8:50 pm
Treyvon says:
U got me. You shoulda been a detective eith your high iq.
June 14, 2019, 9:55 pm
Local from Here says:
Or maybe a doctor, it seems you suffered a stroke mid comment.
June 14, 2019, 10:13 pm
Treyvon says:
Your parents must be so proud of you.
June 14, 2019, 11:58 pm
Local from Here says:
Your parents must be so ashamed of you.
June 15, 2019, 2:47 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Interesting how this applies to all religions equally, Christian Science, Amish, Zoroastrianism, Wicca-hippies, First Nation religions, Judaism, Voodoo, Scientology, etc... Yet only one group is calling it antisemitic and making the issue exclusively about them.
June 15, 2019, 3:23 pm
truth from ny says:
I really don't get it. with this current measles "outbreak/epidemic" the DOH did not allow religious exemptions for MMR and all children not vaccinated against the measles were excluded from school, regardless of the religious exemption. Why then do they think this bill will "stop the epidemic in its tracks"?
June 16, 2019, 12:01 am
Tyler from pps says:
Ignorance is not pretty. Ignorance mixed with bigotry is even worse. The FACT is that the World Health Organization (WHO) monitors vaccinations around the world and, guess what, vaccination coverage in Mexico, Nicaragua and Costa Rica is HIGHER than vaccination coverage in the United States. And other countries like Guatemala and Belize are just slightly lower.
June 16, 2019, 10:31 am
Local from Here says:
That’s because the pharmaceutical companies are preying upon the poor people of those countries without regard to the health risks. Look at all the lawsuit monies payed out by the likes of Merck in this country due to the autism epidemic they are responsible for here. People in those countries do not have the legal resources to fight back like we do.
June 16, 2019, 2:07 pm
REAL Local from Here says:
??????This trumpturd thinks vaccines cause autism?????? Let that sink in. This is how dumb trump's base is.
June 16, 2019, 4:14 pm
Bob from Coney Island Avenue says:
Hear liberals. Your precious NY Times is reporting on a surge of migrants fro Central Africa crossing the US border. Ebola anyone?
June 16, 2019, 7:31 pm
REAL Local from Here says:
????This guy must have stroked mid comment???? You are one dum fuk, bro!
June 16, 2019, 7:47 pm
REAL Local from Here says:
????This guy must have stroked mid comment???? You are dum, bro!
June 17, 2019, 6:54 am
Tyler from pps says:
Bob -- This statement is in the article you linked. "Officials in both cities have had to reassure the public that fears of an Ebola outbreak were unfounded while also pleading for volunteer interpreters who speak French and Portuguese." Willful ignorance.
June 17, 2019, 12:05 pm

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